Friday, March 2, 2007

Diane Ravitch: "Power Struggle in New York City"

Education historian Diane Ravitch has written an important piece on this week's protest rally - "Put the Public Back in Public Education" -- including her account of the event, the political fight over our schools and a detailed refutation of the statistics the Mayor uses to claim he is turning around our schools.

The full commentary can be found on Education Week. Here are some excerpts:

On the February 28th rally:

So the rally was important, because it was the first time that the simmering public rebellion had a face. Speaker after speaker got up to talk about overcrowded classrooms; about schools that were bursting at the seams because the Department, without consultation, dumped a new small school or a charter school into an already full building; about teachers and parents who felt disrespected, excluded, marginalized by the powers that be.
On the bogus claims cited by Klein and reproduced without verification by the papers:

How did he come up with the idea that the scores have jumped by almost 19 points? He is using 2002 as his start date, when the scores were only 52.0%. But he cannot fairly use that date as his starting point, because his program was not launched until September 2003 (he announced his program in January 2003). In fact, the biggest one-year jump in fourth-grade math scores—14.7%—occurred between 2002 and 2003, the year before his program was installed. Since then, in three years, the scores have gone up only 4.2%.

Parents should take a minute to read Professor Ravitch's viewpoint, part of a series of exchanges with education reformer, writer and activist Deborah Meier.

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